News & Media

Borderless and boundless nature of media

“The borderless and boundless nature of today’s media poses a variety of ethical immoral dilemmas for users because every citizen sees themselves as studio journalists or investigative reporters.” Prof Mandla Makhanya, Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, was delivering the opening address at the Media Dialogue hosted by the Communications Students’ Association (COMSA) in the College of Human Sciences.

Ayanda Dlodlo (Minister of Communications), Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor: Unisa), and Nomshado Lubisi (President: COMSA)

The conference theme, the role of the media in conflict escalation, was inspired by the role media plays in conflict management and conflict transformation in the society. When focusing on the latest trending news that has caused the country to engage in relevant matters, the popularity of social media has prompted individuals to articulate their opinion, get their voices heard, and draw public attention to issues that need to be addressed.

Nomshado Lubisi, President of COMSA, elaborated on the role people play as content producers and content receivers. “What we share can either damage or build our society; we as content producers and content receivers have the duty to be factual and ethical.”

The Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, who was the keynote speaker, spoke on how the media determines what the public sees and hears.

“The introduction of digital media has taken away the monopoly control of information from the main traditional media, it has allowed ordinary people to be active and join journalists in sharing instant information in news that go viral in a matter of seconds.”

She highlighted how we as a country have become desensitised to murder and death to a point where it does not affect us anymore. She made an example on how the images of the gruesome deaths of young women were circulated on social media with no trace of respect for the dead.

“In many instances conflicts are caused by a struggle of power and resources; resolving conflicts is not easy because it requires certain efforts from all sectors of society including the media.”

She ended her address by emphasising that the role of the media is to ensure access to information which is essential to the health of our democracy and the development of South Africans which reiterates that the media can be an instrument of conflict resolution by providing information that is reliable, respects human rights and represents diversity.

The Media Dialogue tackled topics such as peace journalism, social media, challenges to media freedom, and media transparency in political matters. Mahlatse Gallens, Chairperson of SANEF and Political editor at News 24 spoke on peace journalism and emphasised that people had to consider the types of media channels in evaluating the role of media in society. “Messages are indescribably tied to messengers.”

Ndumiso Dladla, Unisa philosophy lecturer, spoke on media transparency in political matters. He began his presentation by stating that the saying “don’t shoot the messenger” is ideologically incorrect because the idea that messengers are innocent suggests that they are able to transmit the truth as it occurs and to represent it, thereby having no moral capability themselves in the representation. The idea that messengers are innocent is contingent on the messaging itself as a pure discipline that does not have interest, values, ideological and class interest in the representation; however this is not the case.

About the Communications Students’ Association

The Communication Students’ Association was established in 1993 by Communication students as an intervention of bridging the gap between theory and practice within the various Communication disciplines. COMSA aims at introducing students to the market field by organising media tours, workshops, seminars and conferences where students can develop their skills. COMSA also informs and assists students in securing internships and jobs opportunities.

*By Nomshado Lubisi